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July 17th, 2012

Social media is widely thought to be crucial to a successful marketing plan, especially when a vast majority of the upcoming customer base view it as an extension of themselves. Many small businesses realize this and have successfully integrated at least one platform into their daily operations. It seems like there’s a new social network every six months, it can be hard to keep track of them.

Here’s some important information about each of the top five, as of 2012, social networks, that as a whole make up social media.

  1. Facebook. With around 900 million users, Facebook is “the” social network for connecting with nearly everyone and has become one of the main forms of communication among the younger generation. In general, over half of users are between the age of 18 and 34, and spend an average of 405 minutes a month connected. If you’re looking to connect to customers, while driving brand awareness, your company should be utilizing this network.
  2. Linkedin. Linkedin is the social network for professionals to connect with other professionals, share their experience and find a job. There are around 150 million users, 55% of whom are between the ages 26 and 44 and spend, on average, 21 minutes a month logged in. If you’re looking to connect with your colleagues, other businesses or potential employees, this is the network that allows you to do so.
  3. Twitter. Twitter is the social network that allows users to announce, or find events going on nearby. With a 140 character limit, twitter is great for those who are efficient with their words, which is apparently over 550 million people. The majority of twitter users are between the ages of 26 and 44 and spend an average of 89 minutes a month logged in. Twitter is a great way for small businesses to broadcast announcements and promotions, with the goal of driving traffic to other social networks.
  4. Google +. Google + is the closest competitor to Facebook with many similar features. There are two major differences however. The first is the userbase is quite a bit lower, around 170 million users. The second difference is users only spend 3 minutes a month, on average logged in. If your business has a Google Places page, you’re already on Google +, and with recent changes to the platform, it should become a solid network to connect with your customers in the near future.
  5. Pinterest. Pinterest is the network to discover new content and products and is one of the fastest growing social networks. Founded in 2010 and coming to prominence in 2011, the userbase is around 11.4 million and growing rapidly. What’s intriguing about Pinterest is that users spend, on average, 90 minutes a month logged in, second only to Facebook. This network is a great way for companies to drive interest in their physical products.
These five networks are by far the most popular in terms of both users, time spent logged in and overall content. What social networks you use and why do you use them? We look forward to your comments below.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
June 19th, 2012

Facebook is one of the most popular websites on the Internet. It seems like every business, person and their dog has an account. While it’s extremely popular, many business owners tend to stick with the features they know, which the majority of the time are the features they can see. There are a number of hidden features you can use as well.

Here are four hidden features you can use.

  1. App Settings. This setting tab lets you view and manage all the apps you’ve installed to your profile. From your profile, click the grey arrow near your name at the top of the window, select Account Settings and Apps to view your apps. Clicking the X will delete the app, while Edit will allow you to edit the settings. This feature is good for managing your profile.
  2. Archive Facebook. There’s a hidden feature in the Account Settings page that allows you to download your wall posts, everything you’ve shared and your friend's email addresses. You can also download an enhanced archive which includes info like IP addresses. This feature is in the General tab in Account Settings and is under Language. If your company wants to backup its Facebook data, this is the way to do so.
  3. Customize Username. You can customize the username attached to your Facebook account, which in turn changes the URL of your profile to the username selected e.g., www.facebook.com/myprofile. This is useful for businesses as it allows them to have a unique username that they can use on their websites, newsletters and other communication to encourage visits. To change your username, click the grey arrow beside your name at the top of the Facebook window and select Account Settings. Under the General tab, select Edit beside Username. Be aware that at this time, Facebook only allows you to change your username once, so make sure you’re okay with the selection.
  4. Facebook email. Did you know that you can message Facebook users from any email account? All you have to do is enter username@facebook.com and anything you type will be sent to that user’s messaging tab (the speech bubble in the top left of the screen). This is a great feature that allows you to quickly and easily send a message to your friends without actually opening Facebook.
These are just four of the many useful features of Facebook that you could use in your business to help further your brand, or make it easier to reach out to your followers. If you’d like to learn more about utilizing Facebook in your business, please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 24th, 2012

Social media is a part of daily life for the vast majority of people and businesses. It’s the perfect platform for businesses to gain exposure to a large pool of potential customers, while being able to interact with their existing customers. One use of social media that companies are starting to adopt is social customer service.

Social customer service is a bit of an ambiguous term with no real established meaning. Before you pursue this strategy, you should be clear on exactly what it is and the benefits it can bring your company.

What exactly is social customer service? Think of the last time you had a problem with a program on your computer. Did you contact tech support? Or did you turn to your friends on social media? If you turned to social media, this is one of the main elements of social customer service.

Customers are starting to go to social media sites when they have questions, many times contacting the company directly. Having customer service elements on social media to answer these questions or field complaints is social customer service. A great example of this is OPEN Forum, run by AMEX. It allows customers to interact with one another, while giving the company a channel to feed technical help and information to them.

Benefits of social customer service There are four main benefits of leveraging social customer service in your business.

  • Increased customer satisfaction. By offering a way for customers to interact with you on a medium many are already comfortable with, you’ll find customers to be more satisfied.
  • Meeting consumer expectations. Let’s face it, the majority of your customers are using social media with many now expecting you to as well. If you meet their expectations, there’s a higher chance they’ll stay your customers.
  • Increased loyalty. One of the main reasons companies should be on social media is that an effective campaign can help improve customer and brand loyalty. Social customer service is an extra service that can help further increase loyalty.
  • Decreased customer service costs. If you offer customer service on social media, you could potentially decrease your total costs. The expenditure required to setup and maintain the online service is fractional compared to the physical operation.
While there are some distinct advantages to social customer service, it’s not a good idea to shift all of your customer support onto social platforms. Rather it should be viewed as a supplementary service, or another way for customers to get in contact with you. If you’d like to know more about how to integrate social customer service into your company's social media plan, please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 24th, 2012

Social media is a part of daily life for the vast majority of people and businesses. It’s the perfect platform for businesses to gain exposure to a large pool of potential customers, while being able to interact with their existing customers. One use of social media that companies are starting to adopt is social customer service.

Social customer service is a bit of an ambiguous term with no real established meaning. Before you pursue this strategy, you should be clear on exactly what it is and the benefits it can bring your company.

What exactly is social customer service? Think of the last time you had a problem with a program on your computer. Did you contact tech support? Or did you turn to your friends on social media? If you turned to social media, this is one of the main elements of social customer service.

Customers are starting to go to social media sites when they have questions, many times contacting the company directly. Having customer service elements on social media to answer these questions or field complaints is social customer service. A great example of this is OPEN Forum, run by AMEX. It allows customers to interact with one another, while giving the company a channel to feed technical help and information to them.

Benefits of social customer service There are four main benefits of leveraging social customer service in your business.

  • Increased customer satisfaction. By offering a way for customers to interact with you on a medium many are already comfortable with, you’ll find customers to be more satisfied.
  • Meeting consumer expectations. Let’s face it, the majority of your customers are using social media with many now expecting you to as well. If you meet their expectations, there’s a higher chance they’ll stay your customers.
  • Increased loyalty. One of the main reasons companies should be on social media is that an effective campaign can help improve customer and brand loyalty. Social customer service is an extra service that can help further increase loyalty.
  • Decreased customer service costs. If you offer customer service on social media, you could potentially decrease your total costs. The expenditure required to setup and maintain the online service is fractional compared to the physical operation.
While there are some distinct advantages to social customer service, it’s not a good idea to shift all of your customer support onto social platforms. Rather it should be viewed as a supplementary service, or another way for customers to get in contact with you. If you’d like to know more about how to integrate social customer service into your company's social media plan, please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 9th, 2012

Social media is one of the most important communication tools of the modern era. Companies use it to connect with customers and like minded individuals, all in the name of building trust in their brand and products. While almost every company has a social media presence, they have been slow to trust employees to use personal social media at work. On average, 31% of companies block employees from accessing their accounts.

There are four distinct advantages to allowing social media:

  • Increased productivity. There have been a number of studies that have found that judicious use of social media in the workplace will actually increase productivity. A study conducted by the University of Melbourne found that employees with access to social media are 9% more productive than those without.
  • Increased buy-in. Employees like to feel trusted and empowered. If they don’t you can expect to experience higher turnover and lower morale. A good way to gain trust is to allow employees to use social media in the workplace. If an employee feels like they are trusted, they’ll be more likely to stay with the company.
  • Recruiting. Small businesses have started to use social media for recruitment, but limit efforts to one account. If you have 10 employees in your organization, each with a social media account with 100 friends, you have the potential to reach 1,000 people. This is achievable if employees are allowed to access social media at work and are encouraged to share posts.
  • Identification of business opportunities. Through the use of social media, employees in charge of sales and business development can source new clients and build fruitful relationships.
There are many advantages to allowing access to social networks at the office. If you‘re hesitant to completely open the social media floodgates, try doing so in short periods, like the final three hours of the working day.

No matter what you decide, allowing access to social media is a good practice for your business. If you would like to learn more about social media and how you can leverage it in your business, we are happy to talk with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
March 29th, 2012

It’s hard to find someone who isn’t using social media in some way, or at the very least isn’t aware of its existence. Companies are becoming wise to this and are starting to utilize social media tools to build their brand, or bring in new customers. If your company does not use any form of social media, it may be time to look into getting your business out there.

Social media, once called a fad, has become the norm and is going to be with us for some time. A large number of companies already have an online presence, and are taking advantage of the benefits that social media can bring. Here are a number of things you can do to get your social media adventures underway.

Be Clear on Social Media It’s important that before you start looking into the different forms of social media that are out there, you are clear on what social media is, and what it isn’t. Social media is a way to meet people, and share content and ideas with them. For companies it’s a form of non-traditional marketing - think of it as soft marketing - it’s not meant to be the place where you flog your products, rather a place to develop interest in your company, so people will want to do business with you. By using social media you can show people who your company is, and connect with them on a more personal level. If you are clear on what social media is from the beginning, there’s a higher chance that you’ll be successful when you develop your online presence.

Before You Launch Into Social Media There are a number of things that your company needs to have either already done, or considered, before you jump in:

  • Have a website: It’s a good idea to have a solid website with information about your company, contact information, products and services. Most potential customers will look at your website after looking searching for you online, and before they choose to do business with you, so your website needs to provide the relevant information they are looking for. If you don’t have a website, or feel yours is lacking, it’s easier than ever to get a professional looking site. With a quick search you will be able to find some competent designers.
  • Get educated: It will be beneficial to educate yourself on current trends regarding social media. This can be done by simply going to social media websites, taking the free introduction tours and reading blogs related to the sites. Beyond that you should also research your competitors’ websites and Internet presence. Observe what content they have online, and more importantly: what they don’t have. It will also help to connect with and observe industry experts, see what they post online, and note the style and tone they use. This will help provide you with a sound knowledge base from which you can then create a more effective online presence.
  • Set goals: As with any step in business, you should have a plan with realistic goals. Aim for results that are achievable for your company. If you’re a small, local IT company that focuses on providing support for banks, don’t expect to have the same massive hype that Microsoft and Apple do. Clearly set objectives and review periodically.
  • Develop a focus: In real life, you can’t be all things to all people. The same goes for social media. You need to develop a focus on what type of online content you would like to share. You should aim to create content that your customers will want to share with people.
  • Stake a claim: You should to go to the main social media websites - Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube - and reserve your personal and business usernames. This is important because it will make you look more professional by having the same username across all sites, and users will be able to find you easier.
  • Ask for help if you need it: While some companies make social media sound easy, it can be deceptively hard to master. If you feel lost, or are having a tough time with it, there are knowledgeable consultants out there who are happy to help.
Time to Get Social When you feel you know what direction you will take, it’s time to start developing your online profiles. It can be tough to decide which social media tools to utilize. Unfortunately there is no right answer. Most small businesses follow the crowd, and this means having pages on Facebook and Linkedin. This does not mean that you should join these networks simply because they have the most users. It is recommended that you follow what similar businesses or direct competitors are doing. If they are on one service but not another, do the same to begin with, but be on the lookout for new social media sites, or features being added to existing sites.

One Thing to Not Forget There is one really important thing we can share with businesses thinking of pursuing social media: it isn’t a turnkey operation. You can’t just, “set it and forget it.” To be successful, you need to be active by posting updates, news, and above all interacting with the people who reach out to you. After all, they are your customers. If you do establish your social presence but forget to keep it up to date, you will be the company that’s forgotten.

If you would like help with your social media strategy, please get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
March 13th, 2012

Hey, it's nowhere near the gargantuan status of Facebook or Twitter, but lesser-known Pinterest has a following, and especially if your target market is females, it can be a very versatile and unique online marketing tool – that is, if you use it the right way.

What is Pinterest? In a nutshell, it's something like a social media scrapbook, album, and bulletin board combined. Each interest / theme has its own 'Pinboard' where you put photos, videos, or other media that interest you.

What makes Pinterest unique is its concept, which has been consistently growing in popularity, especially with female audiences. And while Facebook and Twitter are more open to overt advertising, Pinterest takes a more conservative stance. While advertising isn't exactly prohibited, the marketing should definitely be more subtle and more consistent with a personal Pinterest profile. Here are some basic tips that will help you utilize Pinterest to your advantage.

1. Understand your market. The first question you should ask yourself is if Pinterest is something worth your time investment. Since the majority of Pinterest users are female, ask yourself if your products and services appeal to them directly.

2. Invest time. As in many other social networking sites, you need to put a personal and human touch to your Pinterest profile and in the way you interact with your audience. Log in often, update regularly, and respond quickly to any kind of feedback. Let your audience know that you're there.

3. Use other social media to augment Pinterest. Since Pinterest is less known, use your other social media accounts to point people your way in Pinterest, such as Tweeting or updating your Facebook status with your most recent Pinterest profile update.

4. Talk about what you represent. As mentioned earlier, since Pinterest isn't big on overt advertising, you need to market yourself in a different way. Talk about what your brand is all about. What do you represent? What content can you provide that would inspire your audience to share on their own Pinboards? If you're a furniture company, for example, you can try giving some tips on basic interior design and picking the right furniture pieces for spaces, with pictures or videos. What's good about Pinterest is that it challenges you to be more creative, and thus, more appealing to potential clients.

If Pinterest interests you, give us a call so we can discuss how you can maximize this new social media platform for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
March 2nd, 2012

In late February 2012, Twitter hit 500 million users. This milestone has cemented Twitter as a major Social Media player. With this large user base, companies should be seriously considering integrating twitter with their marketing strategies. Benefits of integration include increased followers, brand awareness, and potentially a better bottom line. Here are some tips for increasing your followers.

Search for companies and people you know While it’s easy to use the search function in Twitter, it can be time consuming to search for people one by one. Instead:

  1. Log into your Twitter account
  2. Press the # Discover button at the top of the page
  3. Press Find Friends
  4. Log into the various accounts available
  5. Add people as followers
This is a great way to rapidly increase your followers, and reconnect with customers and contacts you may have lost contact with.

Combine your Twitter and Facebook feeds You can combine your Twitter and Facebook feeds easily:

  1. Log into your Twitter account
  2. Select Profile Settings
  3. Select Profile
  4. Select Post your tweets to Facebook
  5. Follow the instructions provided
Within minutes, your Tweets will show up in your Facebook status, enabling you to reach two platforms simultaneously. Be warned, this could spam your followers, causing them to stop following you - so it’s best to keep your Tweets or status updates to the most important information.

Join Twitter Ads for Small Business This recently announced service will be up and running soon, allowing small business owners to advertise on Twitter through Promoted Tweets. This service will be released in the near future, enabling businesses of all sizes to advertise.

If you are not on Twitter, would like to join, or know more please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
February 27th, 2012

On one hand, social media is simple enough that a child can use it – which nowadays, is happening literally. But when it comes to business and social media, it's a different ballgame entirely. Sadly, this concept is lost on many businesses, who unknowingly commit all sorts of mistakes that actually hinder growth, rather than help speed it up.

Social media is booming. Since its introduction a few years ago, social media platforms have not only changed the way people connect on the internet, it's also changed the way business is done. When applied correctly, it's a cost-effective tool that helps businesses connect with a much larger audience and client base, as well as potential clients. That is, however, IF it's used properly.

One common mistake businesses make is the failure to draw the line between personal and professional. While showing a human aspect of your business isn't bad at all, doing it too much makes you less consistent as a business entity and makes followers or audiences lose touch of what you're really about.

Another common error is the failure to handle bad feedback correctly. More often than not, one negative comment can balloon into a full blown argument that will only give people an even more negative impression about you and your business. While you should acknowledge even bad feedback, more detailed discussion should be done privately and only between the parties concerned.

Social media is not a "set it and forget it" kind of thing. You need to constantly update and monitor your social media platforms so they don't become stagnant. People will be more encouraged to follow you on Twitter or visit your Facebook page if they have something new to look forward to every once in a while. Make sure, though, that you don't post too frequently – or worse, fall into the trap of making it too promotionally-driven, which comes across as self-serving and impersonal.

If you're interested in knowing more and drawing up a comprehensive and effective social media plan for your business, please don't hesitate to contact us so we can discuss things and better respond to any issues or questions you might have.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media